Building a Europe for and with children

Unaccompanied and separated children need more protection and not detention

20 June 2012: On the occasion of World Refugee Day on 20 June, the UNHCR together with the Council of Europe's Children’s Rights Division and Migration Unit held an internal workshop to discuss the legal standards and practice regarding the detention of unaccompanied and separated children in need of protection.

The Council of Europe Strategy on the Rights of the Child for 2012-2015, stipulates that the organisation should support member states in improving the protection of migrant children and children "on the move", including asylum seeking, refugee, unaccompanied, seperated, internally displaced and stateless children. Expert presentations were provided by Mr Kris POLLET, Senior Legal and Policy Officer at the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) and
Ms Krista ZONGOLOWICZ, from the Danish Refugee Council. Participants discussed about existing legal standards and the practice regarding the administrative detention of unaccompanied and separated children seeking asylum in the Council of Europe member states, and exchanged ideas concerning the identification of needs for further standard-setting and co-operation activities in this field with the aim of avoiding the detention of children in such situations.

Link to list of speakers

Links to organisations:



Danish Refugee Council

Links to presentations:

Presentation by Ms Krista Zongolowick

Links to photos:

Link to podcast with Mr Kris Pollet, Senior Legal and Policy Officer, European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE)

Links to background documents:

Concept Note Workshop

The case-law of the European Court of Human Rights on the detention of unaccompanied and separated children

UNHCR’s Guidelines on Applicable Criteria and Standards relating to the Detention of Asylum-Seekers

Guidelines on International Protection: Child Asylum Claims under Articles 1(A)2 and 1(F) of the 1951 Convention and/or 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees

Guidelines on Policies and Procedures in Dealing with Unaccompanied Children Seeking Asylum

Inter-agency Guiding Principles on unaccompanied and separated children

Link to a related video message from the Human Rights Commissioner

Other useful/interesting links:

The campaign to end the immigration detention of children